Women in Creative — Nicole’s Story

Because women’s stories and achievements shouldn’t be relegated to just one month out of the year, we’ll continue telling our stories throughout 2021 and beyond, in hopes of inspiring women everywhere to speak their truth and own their stories.

Join us all year, as we get to know the brave women working behind the scenes at Gallardo Labs, and learn more about who they are, what they do, and what led them to take the ultimate risk — betting it all on themselves.

These are the women we are proud to call our #dreamteam.

Meet Nicole Gallardo.

Co-founder + CEO of Gallardo Labs, mom of 3, and friend to all, Nicole is the fearless leader and dynamic force behind our company’s mission and capabilities; and has built a team culture where different is better, mistakes are opportunities, and the design process is rooted in compassion.

What did you want to be when you were a child? When I was very young, I wanted to design greeting cards. I remember spending hours making the most elaborate cards for holidays and family birthdays. Then as I grew into my teens (and learned the world couldn’t be saved with heartfelt phrases), I became obsessed with Lois Lane from Superman and wanted to follow in her footsteps as a news reporter.

What characteristics do you admire most in other creative women? I admire those who are fearless with their art and have mastered the power of trusting their intuition when it comes to creative problem-solving. I’m also heavily inspired by those who are great communicators and articulate in describing their ideas. I am lucky to get to work with many types of fearless females at Gallardo Labs and searching for those traits is something I invest a lot of time in when growing our team.

What was the best piece of advice you were given when you were first starting out? The earliest advice I was given that made a huge impact on my professional life was in regards to public speaking. My mentor at the time was an extremely confident, engaging, and successful speaker, and one day, after I struggled through a presentation that he attended, he confided in me that he actually hates public speaking as much as I do. He told me that to get over his fear, before every single speech he gives, he practices his presentation non-stop for the days leading up to it. He recites his words aloud (this is key, he noted — it can’t just be in your head) in the shower, on the drive-in to work, while he’s on the treadmill, doing the dishes, etc.

Before he shared this with me, I just assumed he was a natural speaker, but after I learned how much he struggles and how hard he works at it behind the scenes, I was inspired to do the same. I still do this today.

What would you tell other women who are starting out now? I actually just did an interview about this on Authority Magazine, “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Began Leading My Company”. In summary, I would tell them:

  • Even great leaders don’t have to have it all figured out.
  • Relationships are EVERYTHING.
  • Choice fatigue is real.
  • Start your day with creativity and gratitude. The team and company must wait.
  • Creating good in the world can be done from the inside out, one person at a time.

What does success mean to you? My definition of success has changed many times over the years. Personal success at this moment means that I am surrounded by people who support me, challenge me, and love me for who I am. It also means that I am giving back the same things (support, challenge, and love) to those same people. At a company-wide level, it means that our partners are succeeding. Their success goes hand-in-hand with ours and together, we are creating a better society and future.

What is your favorite thing about your workspace? Our culture — the trust we have in each other and faith in what we’re building together. We can bring our full, true selves to work every day and grow personally, creatively, and professionally into a better version of who we’re meant to be.

If you were given $100 million, what would you do with it? After traveling to a few bucket-list destinations around the world with my family, I would:

  • Accelerate the building of our Gallardo Labs, Created for Change non-profit initiative focused on using design to transform the world.
  • Invest it properly, so according to my husband, Beto, we’d ensure the $100 million multiplies ;)

Which of your traits are you most proud of? I’m proud to have an open mind. This has always allowed me to relate easily to people who are very different from me and seize opportunities that otherwise, wouldn’t have presented themselves.

What’s the hardest part of doing what you do? The non-stop decision-making in my role can create choice fatigue. I wrote about choice fatigue in the Authority Magazine interview mentioned above. The amount of mental energy it takes to masterfully manage dozens of unique personalities, conversations, and situations on a daily basis is immense. Between the business, kids, and my marriage, I find myself being forced to make major decisions very quickly and one after the other, non-stop. For someone who is naturally as indecisive as me, this causes a lot of stress and anxiety. I sometimes lay awake at night fretting over the choices I have to make the next day or even worse, going back over the choices I had made earlier that day, hoping they were the right ones. Learning to manage this took years and although I’ve gotten a lot better since starting out, I’m still working on it.

In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up? I have lots of long (and sometimes intense) discussions with Beto because he offers a different perspective and can bring me back to reality if I’m feeling anxious or worried about something out of my control. I also spend time reflecting on all the good things in my life by reading my gratitude journal.

What does the world need more of? People like the ones we have on our team at Gallardo Labs and our partners. Those who contribute to making the world a better place.

Want to learn more about Nicole? Connect with her on LinkedIn & stay tuned for more stories on the badass women who call @gallardolabs home.

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